By Erika Winston
It’s time to commemorate the nation’s birthday, and Richmond, Virginia was recently given top honors as the best city for fourth of July celebrations. A new report from WalletHub.com compared the100 largest U.S. cities on 14 different metrics. Weather and hotel prices were among the considerations, along with food choices and recreational activities. All things considered, Richmond emerged as the leader in Independence Day fun. So, if you are still planning your July fourth festivities, consider some of the many enjoyable options in and around your hometown.
Enjoying the Fireworks
What’s Fourth of July without an amazing display of pyrotechnics lighting up the nighttime sky? Richmond and the surrounding counties offer you several displays to top off your day of food, fun, and patriotism.
Fireworks on the James is an annual Brown’s Island celebration, sponsored by Dominion and MeadWestvaco. The festivities start at 7:30 p.m. with plenty of food and activities. Along with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, the Latin Ballet of Virginia will also provide an entertaining performance. The event is taking place on July 3rd and the fireworks start at 9:15 p.m. They can also be seen from several downtown locations, if you want to avoid the crowds.
Genworth Financial is also celebrating a day early, with an Independence Day Festival on July 3rd. Located at the company’s world headquarters on West Broad Street, there are giveaways and plenty of food on the menu. Entertainment for the kids includes balloons, games, and face painting. Music for the event is provided by the heritage of America Band and the fireworks begin at dusk.
If you’re out in Chesterfield County, the county fairgrounds open at 5:00 p.m. on July 4th for an evening of celebration. Admission is free and the scheduled activities include music, food, and a variety of fun activities for the kids. You can stay to watch the fireworks at dusk. Though admission is free, parking is limited. County officials advise that roads leading to the fairgrounds will close once the lots are full, so make sure you get there early.
Dogwood Dell Park is another location for festivities within Richmond City. The events begin at 5:30 on July 4th. Music is provided by Larry Robinson, and the Carillon Bells, as well as the Richmond Concert Band. The fireworks begin at dusk and admission is free.
How About a Day Trip
If you’re in the mood for a short car trip, Independence Day can be found in several directions. The nation’s capital offers events on the National Mall. The activities begin with the Independence Day parade. It starts at 11:45 a.m., but get there early to claim your spot along the route, which is on Constitution Avenue between 7th and 17th Streets. At the conclusion of the parade, head over to the National Mall. Everyone must enter through a checkpoint, so be prepared to have those coolers and bags searched. Among the many family-oriented activities, this year the Smithsonian Folklife Festival is taking place on the fourth. Music and dance performances, along with cooking demonstrations and crafts, are offered throughout the day. Admission is free.
Your evening on the National Mall starts with the Capital Fourth Concert, featuring the National Symphony Orchestra and a lineup of popular singers. This year’s roster includes the incredible Patti La Belle and the smooth sounds of Michael McDonald. Then, top off the day with an amazing display of fireworks decorating the sky over the Washington Monument.
A trip east on Interstate 64 will land you at Busch Gardens, which is celebrating the nation’s birthday with patriotic park activities from July 3rd through the 5th. Starting at 9:30 each night, the park will light up with fireworks. On July 4th, you can indulge in an all-you-can-eat picnic, complete with fried chicken, hot dogs, mac-and-cheese, and corn-on-the-cob. There’s even cake and ice cream for dessert. Tickets for the feast must be ordered in advance through the park’s website. Adults eat for $29, while the kids’ tickets are $17 each.
Maybe you prefer a trip to the mountains. Blacksburg offers an entire day of festivities, starting with a parade through downtown at 2 p.m. The fun continues at Municipal Park. Starting at 6:00, residents and guests are welcome to enjoy patriotic themed events, including performances by the Blacksburg Community Band. The day culminates in a fireworks show, starting at 9:30 p.m.
There’s Plenty of Local Fun
Don’t think you must head out of town for entertainment. You can stay in the area and enjoy the number one ranked city for July 4th celebrations!
The Richmond Squirrels are hosting the Fightin Phils in a double header on July 4th and 5th. There will be special Independence Day treats throughout the day, including a picnic buffet. A fireworks display is the perfect ending to each game. Head out to the Diamond to celebrate America’s birthday with America’s favorite pastime.
The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is hosting an All-American Celebration on July 4th. Visitors are encouraged to come out in their patriotic colors. The park offers plenty of activities for the kids, including water play and a guest parade, so bring your wagons and strollers. The staff will even help you decorate them. The festivities start at 1:00 and end at 5:00, so there is still time to get to your favorite fireworks spot. The park is located on Lakeside Avenue and admission is free.
For a relaxing, historical commemoration, why not take the “I Know Richmond” bus tour? Starting from the Valentine Richmond History Center at 10 a.m. on the fourth, the three hour tour explores the rich history of Richmond. The James River, Jackson Ward, and Monument Avenue are all part of this informational adventure through the city’s past. Reservations are required and tickets are $20-$25. Call (804) 649-0711 ext. 301 for details.
Last, but certainly not least, how about a day of excitement and thrills at Kings Dominion? Release your inner child, while making your kids very happy with their choice of coasters, water fun, shows, and games. July 4th and 5th are Military Days, with free admission to active, inactive and retired military personnel. Fireworks happen nightly at 9:45 p.m., but the show is extended by 15 minutes on Independence Day.
With an extensive collection of activities, it’s no wonder Richmond ranked number one in July 4th celebrations. Whether you choose to stay in and fire up the grill, or venture out to celebrate with your neighbors, just remember to be safe, responsible, and enjoy!